FAQ – General Questions

Who do you work with?

We work with crisis accommodation providers and case workers who refer needy people to people with spare keys. On the accommodation side, we work with registered accommodation providers, such as hotels, motels, caravan parks, guest houses, and Airbnb listings, as well as individuals with spare keys in private homes.

Who do you help?

We’re here to help anyone who needs a roof over their head as a result of unexpected financial hardship, but because we rely on the benevolence of accommodation providers, the organisations who refer people to Spare Keys have policies on who they will send our way. People with a history of violence and illegal activities are less likely to be referred. Those we help out most often tend to be people with these sorts of backgrounds:

  • Women fleeing domestic violence situations, especially those with young children for whom other crisis accommodation might not be a good fit
  • Families needing to stay away from home to be near a friend or relative needing medical treatment
  • Young people who have been forced to leave home, due to circumstances beyond their control, who don’t have a rental history and may take a period of time to find a share house or rental accommodation
  • People who have lost their jobs and are facing financial hardship whilst they look for permanent accommodation
  • People who have lost their homes due to natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances

Meet some of the people we’ve helped so far.

Where does your funding come from?

We are a registered charity and a not-for-profit organisation. All our funding comes from donations, fundraising activities, small accommodation facilitation fees (usually around 10% of the booking) and grants. Any money we make from our activities is funnelled back into our services to fulfil our mission of providing Spare Keys for needy people.

Why can’t needy people just stay in homeless shelters?

Homeless shelters play an important role in housing some of Australia’s most vulnerable and down-on-their-luck homeless people, but not everyone feels comfortable or safe in a homeless shelter. Women fleeing a violent partner, and families with children are two groups in particular who aren’t suited to temporary housing in shelters, which often end up accommodating those with substance abuse, mental health or violence issues. There’s also often not enough room. Spare Keys plays a role in finding accommodation for homeless people for whom a homeless shelter is not a viable option, and in doing so we free up more room in shelters for those who need it.

Aren’t backpacker hostels a viable option? They’re cheap, right?

The communal, convivial, and often boisterous nature of backpacker hostels isn’t often a good fit for vulnerable people who have just found themselves without a home. And backpackers hostels aren’t necessarily cheap either; the average cost of a bed in a dorm room is around $30 a night – that’s simply out of reach for many.

FAQ – For Spare Keys donors

How can I list my property?

Complete our registration form and we will contact you to follow up.

How do you match my spare keys to someone in need?

When you register your spare keys, we’ll match your preferred guest preferences, location and amenities with suitable crisis accommodation providers. So, if you’re keen on sharing the keys to your spare bedroom (for example) we won’t match you with a family. If you’ve got a whole hotel with a number of spare rooms, your in prime position to be able to help a whole bunch of people. If you’re a single guy with a spare bedroom and no blue card, we’re very unlikely to match you with a female domestic violence victim and her kids – but you might be a great match for another guy who has recently lost his job and found himself sleeping in his car while he looks for work.

What sort of accommodation can I donate?

You can donate any accommodation that is safe, legal and suitable for guests – whether you manage a 1,000 room hotel, a caravan park, an Airbnb listing, or even just a spare room (see below).

Can I donate my spare room?

Yes. You can donate a single room, as long as you have the legal right to do so. We absolutely encourage anyone to donate any spare room, anywhere. That being said, single rooms aren’t suitable for all types of guests, and we’ll need to do more background checks if you intend on living in the property at the same time as guests. Don’t let that stop you from registering your keys though – if you’re keen to help out, there’ll be someone you can help.

Is Spare Keys safe?

Spare Keys is no riskier than using Uber, or renting your home out on Airbnb. Furthermore, every guest is vetted by a registered crisis accommodation referrer or case worker, and any referrer or case worker who sends someone dodgy and receives a ‘wouldn’t have the guest back’ rating, loses their ability to participate in the system. For that reason, referrers are very particular about the guests they nominate to be eligible for Spare Keys. People with a recent history of substance abuse or any history of violence are ineligible to stay as guests.

How secure are my personal details?

All personal information is encrypted using 128-bit encryption technology and stored on secure Google servers that meet strict EU data security standards, UK Government sensitive data standards and US Government health record data standards. Read more about Google’s data security measures here.

How often do I need to make my keys available?

It’s your call. Even one night a year would be a big help.

How do guests make a booking?

Bookings are made by the referring organisation or case worker in our secure online booking system. You will receive notification of a booking request via email or text (whichever you nominate) with a brief history of the guest, and why they need accommodation, and you can then decide whether you’re able to meet the request or not. If you are able to help, the you’ll be provided with the guest’s name, arrival time, and check-out time.

What background checks do you run on guests?

We only take referrals for people who are suffering unexpected financial hardship, who have come through a registered crisis accommodation provider or case worker. We rely on the crisis referrers to conduct their own background checks, which include checks for criminal histories and drug use. People with a recent history of substance abuse or any history of violence are ineligible to stay as guests.

Can I approve, or unapprove guests?

Yes. You can approve or deny any guest request. You don’t need to provide a reason. It’s totally your call.

What if a guest causes damage to my property?

So far, no Spare Keys guest has ever caused any damage to a property, but if they ever did, Spare Keys Australia Ltd covers the excess to your insurance.

Will my insurance cover Spare Keys guests?

It should do – a Spare Keys guest should be no different to anyone else staying with you. But we can’t speak on behalf of insurance companies. You should check your policy before accepting guests.

How much should I charge guests?

If you can offer a free room, that’s awesome. Most guests are comfortable paying the cost of cleaning, laundry and amenities though. That usually totals around $20-$30 for a stay.

Do I need a Blue Card?

If you have a private home and want to lend your spare keys to a family with kids, yes, you will need a blue card.

Can I unregister my property?

Yes, contact us to remove your details.

FAQ – For Guests

How much do you charge per night?

It depends on the accommodation provider. Some rooms are free. Others might charge a nominal fee (e.g. $10-$15 per night, or $35 a week) to cover the costs of cleaning and toiletries.

How do I book a room?

Members of the public cannot book a room directly through the Spare Keys. If you need a place to stay, here’s a good starting point of organisations that can help.